Is South Park an adult cartoon of elementary kids spewing racial epithets or is there some hidden social agenda behind it? It may be a widely accepted conclusion that South Park is a racist show, however, is it racist if you as an individual or group make fun of or criticize one ethnic/social group? What if no one is off limits and everyone is “targeted?” Would that still make you racist? Even if you include yourself in any of those categories?
South Park is a success primarily because its characters say what’s on most of our minds. The show is criticized for putting stuff out there that we as an individual or a group think about and would like to say but don’t because “we know better.” And it’s this type of censorship that people like the MPAA would love to get their hands on. South Park is a smart show in that it plays to the senses of post modernists. Unlike the everyday news that covers the same topics of conflict occurring overseas and at home providing one sided views (for the most part), South Park provides a more interactive perspective.
Most people these days are into the world of reality shows. Soap operas and shows like Leave it to Beaver and the Brady Bunch are more old school. “Reality” shows like the Jersey shore and MTV’s The Real World are subpar but it’s South Park that continues to thrive and attract audiences due to the social content that we can actually partake in. According to Lash, the postmodernist has shifted to a stress on the visual, drawing from everyday life, and contesting rationalist views of culture. (Barker P 341)
South Park is a reflection of our culture in the sense that it takes one person to make everyone else in the group look bad. Cartman is a parent’s worst nightmare and he reflects the old world, providing the audience with one sided racial views of life and culture. The other kids in the group who represent the new world/post modernists, either succeed in changing Cartman’s views or they at least make him question his current views. And it’s this imbalanced scale of 1 to 4 or 100 to 1 that seems to be in constant play. It takes a group of people to cause a shift in one person’s view or it takes just one person to change a group of people.
South Park has a loyal audience because they don’t reinforce the racial biases like the news does. If you’re constantly hearing on the news how there was a mugging or murder that took place and a specific race is mentioned, society begins to adopt racial views without thinking about it. Because our fear has us hooked on this “breaking news” we put all this emotion and attention on what’s being said. It becomes a lesson for us: “what can we learn from this event - whom should I fear?” And South Park takes it one step further by providing us with information about political and social events by giving more than just one sided views. But most people don’t see that. I guess it comes down to what you want to focus on, the negative or the positive … the good or the bad. But never both, right?